Chemical experts sound the alarm about toxicity levels in East Palestine: report

Chemical experts sound the alarm about toxicity levels in East Palestine: report
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A month and a half after a Norfolk-Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed near East Palestine, Ohio, residents of that Rust Belt town are worried about the toxicity in their area. Norfolk-Southern executives have been assuring them that they are being taken care of, and that the company is fully committed to making East Palestine as safe as possible. But East Palestine resident Courtney Miller told WKYC-TV (an NBC affiliate in Cleveland) that she doesn't believe them.

"I just don't trust their results," Miller said of Norfolk Southern's testing for toxicity. "We're all ending up sick, and they're telling us its safe and everything's at a safe level. Then why are we all sick?"

Miller isn't the only one who is sounding the alarm about toxicity levels in East Palestine, which is about 40 miles northwest of Pittsburgh and is a short drive to the Pennsylvania state line. In an article published by The Guardian on March 17, journalist Tom Perkins describes the analysis of "chemical experts" that the publication interviewed. And the toxicity levels in East Palestine, according to the interviewees, are still dangerous.

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Perkins reports, "Though the dioxin levels in East Palestine are below the federal action threshold and an (Environmental Protection Agency) administrator last week told Congress the levels are 'very low,' chemical experts — including former EPA officials — who reviewed the data for The Guardian called them 'concerning.'"

The journalist notes that dioxins are a "class of chemicals" that have been "linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, nervous system disorders and other serious health problems."

Former EPA official Linda Birnbaum, describing the dioxin levels in East Palestine, told The Guardian, "The levels are not screaming high, but we have confirmed that dioxins are in East Palestine's soil. The EPA must test the soil in the area more broadly."

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According to toxicologist Stephen Lester — who serves as science director for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice— EPA rules were seriously weakened "for political reasons," including standards for dioxin levels. And it's important to bear that in mind where East Palestine is concerned.

Lester told The Guardian, "When you run the numbers and do your best state-of-the-art risk calculations, that's the number you get for the cancer risk. That's why dioxins are described as one of the most toxic chemicals ever created…. Instead of making adjustments for the high risk of these chemicals, they dropped it, they just walked away from it, and that's the crazy part of this story."

Carsten Prasse, a chemist for Johns Hopkins University, told The Guardian that the "concentrations" of dioxins in East Palestine are "actually concerning" and added, "I certainly wouldn't be comfortable living there."

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Read The Guardian's full report at this link.

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